A Bloomberg report last week said Sinopec was close to buying stakes in Nigerian onshore oil blocks from Total.
“Yes we are discussing with certain buyers about selling certain assets in Nigeria,” Reuters cited Total chief executive Christophe de Margerie, telling reporters at an energy conference in Abu Dhabi over the weekend.
“But it doesn’t mean we are scared and intend to start some kind of walking out of Nigeria…Total is happy to develop its projects in Nigeria.”
While de Margerie did not deny the Bloomberg report, he declined to name the potential buyer or value of the deal, according to Reuters.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil exporter and oil companies operating there have long had to deal with attacks on their pipelines and staff, while the country’s worst floods in 50 years has seriously affected output over recent weeks.
Total said in September it planned to sell assets worth between $15 billion and $20 billion in the period up to 2014 as part of a bolder approach to managing its business, which has seen it buy and sell assets more frequently.
Total declared force majeure in mid-October on gas supplies to Nigeria LNG’s liquefaction plant, saying it had stopped oil and gas production on Block 58, which was losing 90,000 bpd of oil equivalent.
Reuters cited Total’s head of upstream telling reporters at the same press conference that it was still to early to say when production might restart, with flooding still posing problems.
“The water is decreasing, but we still have some problems with the floods,” Total’s head of upstream, Yves-Loius Darricare, said.
“I hope we will be able to restart production as soon as we can.”
At least 363 people have been killed due to the floods since the start of July and 2.1 million people have been displaced, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
NEMA said last week the oil-producing Niger Delta region was still flooded but water levels were falling and the heaviest rains had passed as Nigeria enters its six-month long dry season.
Josh Lewis for Upstream